Crude oil prices ended April on an uninspiring note; yet, traders continue to hope that OPEC’s deal to cut production output will eventually end the oversupply that has kept oil prices depressed for almost three years. On April 27, the international benchmark, Brent Crude was down almost 2% to $51.68 per barrel and U.S. Light sweet crude for May delivery declined to $49.25 per barrel.
The session’s declines were triggered by the opening of two major oil fields in Libya, the ECB’s decision to leave interest rates at zero, and a continued increase in U.S. gas inventories. Crude oil had previously weakened to a four-month low last month and it is starting to give up some of its gains from late 2016.
However, commodity traders are leaning towards a willingness to place bullish bets than bearish bets on crude oil. This piece seeks to provide insight into some of the factors could provide bullish tailwinds for crude oil.
Here’s why crude oil might gain bullish momentum
The chart below shows how crude oil has fared in the global markets in the last one year. From the chart, you’ll observe that crude oil is on a predominantly bullish northbound trajectory before recent bearish woes weighed the commodity down. The international Brent crude has climbed by 8.44% and the West Texas Intermediate has climbed 6.24% in the last one year.
However, oil can still see a significant uptrend going forward because OPEC has worked out a deal in which its member nations will agree to cut their crude oil production. The deal took shape in Nov. 2016 when OPEC member nations agreed to reduce their output by 1.2 million barrels per day by June 2017. The more exciting part of the deal was that non-OPEC members such a Russia, Venezuela, and Mexico also agreed to reduce their output by 558,000 barrels per day.
Jeffery Haynes an analyst at Lionexo observes that “if the news of a deal to cut oil output caused oil prices to get on the bullish path, the actual cuts is having a positive effect on oil prices”. In January, OPEC revealed that it recorded more than 90% compliance in its targets. Of course, critics might argue that the high compliance level doesn’t spread out across the board – Saudi Arabia cut production more than it promised but some member nations are yet to fully commit to the production cuts.
The third reason, crude oil is on an upward trajectory is that there are indications that U.S. stockpiles will be seeing some marked reduction going forward. U.S. stockpiles inventory are still at record highs but a survey of 13 analysts suspect that crude oil storage levels in the U.S. could have declined by 200,000 barrels in the last week of March. The analysts also predict that gasoline stockpiles will decline by 1.6 million barrels while distillates such as diesel and heating oil are expected to decline by 700,000 barrels.
Lastly, another important reason you can expect oil prices to increase going forward in the next couple of months is that there will soon be increased demand for crude oil as the summer driving season gets underway. Automobiles consume a great part of the global crude output in the form of distillates such as gasoline and diesel. Refineries are already ramping up their production volumes in order start pumping out more auto fuel. Analysts think oil prices could touch $61 per barrel when the driving season reaches its peak after Memorial Day.